It's been almost a year since the third instalment of my series devoted to sexist behaviour and anti-female anecdotes. Without further ado, I am pleased to present part four.
1. Entrenched gender stereotypes
A recent study found that "girls as young as 6 can be led to believe men are inherently smarter and more talented than women." It gets worse. This can make "girls less motivated to pursue novel activities or ambitious careers" so "women are underrepresented in fields whose members cherish brilliance."
Evidently, children often begin "endorsing gender stereotypes" once they get to school. One academic suggests this may occur "when students are exposed to famous scientists, composers and writers, the "geniuses" of history, who are overwhelmingly men". Therefore, she continues, "it is important to combine that knowledge with information on gender discrimination".
Talk about a vicious cycle. It's actually scary to consider that entrenched sexism from hundreds of years ago can still be diminishing the prospects of modern day women.
2. The misguided ad man
Last year, Kevin Roberts, the then-chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, resigned following reports he claimed "the gender debate in the advertising industry was "over" and that many women lacked "vertical ambition"." Outrage ensued. Twitter went nuts. Roberts regretted his comments and reckoned they were "misconstrued".
There's an irony that the head of an organisation devoted to communicating brand values and finely honed ideas communicated this so poorly. How could the uber "message man" get this particular message so wrong? And the facts do not support his claims. A 2016 survey run by The 3% Conference (a movement that champions female creative talent and leadership) found that 91 per cent of women have heard demeaning comments from male colleagues and 54 per cent have faced unwanted sexual advances. The gender debate is far from "over" and the message to the self-proclaimed "inventor" of the Love/Respect axis is this: we do not love or respect your contribution to the discussion.
3. The exaggerating chancellor
Just before Christmas, another senior man - this time the chancellor of Massey University - lost his position after a careless comment was widely reported. The then-chancellor, Chris Kelly, when speaking about veterinarians, said that "one woman graduate is equivalent to two-fifths of a full-time equivalent vet throughout her life because she gets married and has a family."
Well, the feminists went wild about this, as you might imagine, because, you know, equality. But the unfortunate thing is, Kelly kind of had a point. The only figures I could find indicate that female vets work considerably fewer hours than male vets over the course of their careers. The ex-chancellor was guilty mainly of gross exaggeration.
Rather than call for his sacking, those so offended might have been better off examining the underlying reasons that marriage and family hamper a women's career but seem to boost a man's career. It's a pity the conversation was shut down by focusing on silencing the source. It was a missed opportunity to identify the hyperbole and expose some important issues.
4. The equestrian centre campaign
In 2013 I wrote of the dangers involved in riding a horse along the side of a public roadway. One of the reader comments suggested we can blame the patriarchy for the lack of respect given to recreational horse riders: "Nothing will improve in this area because horse riding, for fun, is something that more girls and women do than men. There are, in this largely rural empty country, very few places to ride at all. [C]ompare this with the money connections and power tied up in golf courses, cycle ways and rugby facilities ... Just another tiny proof than men still run the [w]orld."
This unpalatable truth certainly seems to be at play as the Woodhill Sands Trust attempts to fundraise to save the equestrian centre near Helensville. The property is for sale and there are fears new owners would find an alternative purpose for it, thus robbing thousands of horse riders of a much-loved competition venue.
If this campaign was associated with rugby or golf, rather than a sport dominated by women, it's likely some business or captain of industry would have already stumped up with the required funds. As it is, with the deadline fast approaching, the total raised is still well below the target. I reckon institutional sexism, the pay gap, household dynamics and the limited economic power of women are all factors here.
5. Barbie STEM kit
Good on Mattel for creating a scientist Barbie with a focus on the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines. This set contains "10 experiments designed to teach crucial elements of STEM education like capillary action and gear ratios".
But don't expect any stereotypes to be blown to smithereens in this kit. In addition to making a "spinning closet rack", girls can create a "necklace and accessory holder", and a washing machine. That's right: this Barbie might be a scientist but she hasn't lost her focus on looks and domesticity. Phew, that's a relief.
And, yes, you are correct. These annoying women's libber-types are never happy. A toy manufacturer tries to make STEM subjects fun for girls aged four to eight and we still complain. What are we like? Where's the gratitude?